Taxonomy term

august 2015

Energy Notes: February 2014-2015

Oil and petroleum imports data are preliminary numbers taken from the American Petroleum Institute’s Monthly Statistical Report. For more information visit www.api.org.

06 Sep 2015

Fate of atolls not necessarily tied to sea-level rise

The western Pacific Ocean is home to many atolls: rings of low-lying islands built from calcite sands and the erosional remnants of coral reefs. This region is also home to some of the highest rates of sea-level rise in recent decades — an unsettling fact for the atolls’ inhabitants and others worried that rising waters will eat away at the islands and evict residents for good. But according to a new study documenting long-term change at one Pacific atoll, the future for such islands might not be so bleak.

30 Aug 2015

Snake forebear had two back legs but no front legs

The more than 3,400 species of snakes alive today may have descended from one ancestor that lacked forelimbs, but which had small vestigial hind limbs complete with ankle bones and toes, according to a new study published in BMC Evolutionary Biology.
 
30 Aug 2015

Map shows where lightning zaps most

Lightning strikes far more often over land than sea and is more concentrated closer to the equator — both testaments to the greater atmospheric instability over those parts of the planet.

29 Aug 2015

Arctic climate change marked by warmer, wetter conditions

At least since satellite observations began four decades ago, climbing temperatures have chipped away at Arctic sea ice causing earlier spring melting and later autumn freezing. Because ice reflects more sunlight than water does, shrinking sea-ice cover means that Arctic waters soak up more solar energy, which affects climate both regionally and globally. Now, a new study has documented how Arctic warming leads to wetter air and increased cloud cover, particularly during autumn and winter, which spurs even more warming in a self-reinforcing cycle.

28 Aug 2015

Sea-level rise accelerating

Studies tracking sea-level rise over the past few decades have been all over the map, with reports variously indicating that the rate of rise has accelerated, stayed constant or declined. Now, a new GPS-based study published in Nature Climate Change indicates that sea-level rise has indeed been accelerating over the last decade.
 
28 Aug 2015

Ocean 'sneezes' spread algae-infecting virus

Microscopic phytoplankton, or microalgae, permeate ocean surfaces, sometimes forming huge blooms visible from space. Nutrient concentrations in seawater are known to regulate such blooms, which play a major role in oceanic food chains and carbon cycling, and occasionally prove harmful to other marine life as well as humans. Less understood are the other factors that influence a bloom’s onset and demise. New research sheds light on one such influence, demonstrating that an algae-infecting virus can become airborne and travel long distances, potentially infecting and eradicating parts of a bloom hundreds of kilometers away.
 
27 Aug 2015

Hazardous Living: Maps, according to geologists

If you have geologist friends, you may have run across some humorous world maps on social media lately. These maps have garnered lots of attention and we found them amusing, so we're sharing them. 

26 Aug 2015

Seismometers listen for falling rocks

Scores of natural rockfalls occur in California’s Yosemi­­te Valley every year, often with little or no advance warning, posing hazards to people and infrastructure. In 1980, for example, a fall near Yosemite Falls killed three people and injured 19. Efforts to record and document rockfalls are rudimentary, relying only on eyewitness accounts and after-the-fact observations of fresh talus piles, which means many events are likely going unreported. In a new study, however, researchers interested in whether there’s a better way to monitor these events propose that seismic and infrasound sensors can help keep tabs on the granite slabs dropping from Yosemite’s cliffs.
 
25 Aug 2015

Oldest birds unearthed in China

The discovery of two well-preserved fossils in the Sichakou Basin of northeastern China has pushed back the known evolutionary record of birds by as much as 6 million years, according to a new study published in Nature Communications.
 
24 Aug 2015

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